“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve used this quote. Ironically, I’ve mistakenly attributed it to one of the Roosevelts (Franklin or Theodore, both former presidents of the United States). Sorry, President Truman.
Yet, if President Truman were alive today he’d probably not mind it too much since the illustration of teamwork and “getting the job done” still works regardless of who said it.
Isn’t this true in the Church as well? It is truly amazing how much we can accomplish when we do not care who gets credit. We’ve been talking about church leadership throughout 1 Timothy but we’re in the thick of it here in chapter 3.
After beginning the conversation about deacons in verses 8-10, the Apostle Paul continues in 1 Timothy 3:11-13:
11 In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 3:11-13
New International Version
Verse 11 seems to stick out like a sore thumb, right? Verses 12 and 13 fit neatly after verses 8-10. But what do we do with verse 11. Hold on; it’s about to get technical.
The Greek of the New Testament does not have a word meaning “deaconess”, but it does have a way to distinguish between referring to a woman or man when it uses the word translated “servant” (cf. Romans 16:1 and the reference to Phoebe).
The Greek word translated “women” here could also be translated as “wives”. Context determines how one translates it.
Modern English translations will usually provide you a footnote telling you this. Because of the flexibility of this Greek word, most interpreters will explain it is referring either to women deacons (or deaconesses) or wives of the (male) deacons.
I believe it’s both.
All that stated, it’s easy to overlook the phrase “in the same way”. This places us right back into the context of what the Holy Spirit through Paul is trying to convey: character counts.
As I’ve been contending for a few weeks: Paul is giving far less of a church governance manual and far more a listing of representative character traits needed to lead the Lord’s congregations.
Paul is making sure we realize whether it’s women or men in these positions, the standard of excellence of character is high. I’ll point out (again): most of the requirements for deacons (and deaconesses) are the same as for Elders, Bishops, Overseers, Pastors, etc. Read that again. It’s more profound than it seems at first glance.
The heart of a servant doesn’t care about getting the spotlight. Should the Lord choose to shine it upon him or her, that’s the Lord’s choice.
But serving is doing what it takes to advance the mission.
It’s pulling the weeds because they need removing.
It’s preparing people to be baptized because it’s important.
It’s sitting with the dying because they are going to meet Jesus.
It’s visiting the sick because they need comfort and healing.
It’s a hug because people are hurting.
Serving isn’t about getting credit. It’s about accomplishing much for the cause of the One Who laid down His life for us: King Jesus.
Let’s accomplish much for Him and let Him give out the credit.
Interested in more like this? Consider Joel’s book: 31 Days of Spiritual Wisdom: A Month in the Proverbs. Moving through a selection of verses from a chapter of Proverbs for every day of the month, Joel walks readers through a journey of spiritual formation applicable to everyday life. The goal? Knowing how to apply the wisdom of Scripture so we grow in our faith, become wiser, and show the world the life-changing power of Jesus.